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Supreme Court Issues Opinion on Advocacy for Speedy Adoption, Foster Care and Sponsorship

The Supreme Court on Monday issued an opinion in a motion, among othersseeking guidelines for early and prompt action by stakeholders under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 (JJ Act) to secure the rights of children in need of care and of protection, mainly with regard to adoption, foster care and sponsorship.

A bench comprising Judges DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli marked this petition with another similar topic to simplify the adoption process.

The petition raises concerns about –

  1. Declining adoption rate in India;
  2. Gaps and overhaul of adoption laws, as recommended by the report of the Standing Committee of Parliament;
  3. Protection, care and adoption of children, especially those with special needs;
  4. The host family is non-existent in India;
  5. Lack of an appropriate system for the implementation of sponsorship;
  6. Allocation of budget and resources.

Declining adoption rate in India

According to the date available in 2020, 8.5% of the total number of children in India are orphans or abandoned, while only 0.0009% of children are given up for adoption in any given year. Referring to an affidavit filed by the National Commission for the Protection of Children’s Rights (NCPCR) before the Supreme Court, in suo moto proceedings, the petition alleges that between April 2020 and January 2022, 10 094 children became orphans, 1,36,910 children lost one or both of their parents and 488 children were abandoned after the Covid-19 epidemic. Given the increase in the number of orphans, he argues that this has not affected the leanadoption rate under the JJ Act, which for the year 2021-22 was only 2291.

Shortcomings and overhaul of adoption laws, as recommended by the report of the parliamentary standing committee

The petition claims that the 118th report of the Standing Committee of Parliament on Review of Guardianship and Adoption Lawspresented to Parliament on 08.08.2022 identified shortcomings in adoption laws and recommended their restructuring to make them uniform, transparentand less bureaucratic. He also suggested harmonizing the JJ Act and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956 (HAMA).

Protection, care and adoption of children, especially those with special needs

In July 2022, of the 1,858 children available for adoption, 1,265 were children with special needs. The petition points out that the proportion of children with special needs available for adoption has increased from 51% in 2018 to 68% in 2022. It argues that adoption agencies are increasingly becoming dumping grounds for children with special needs, who neither their families nor the prospective adoptive parents wish to care for.

The host family is non-existent in India

The petition argues that although Section 44 of the JJ Act provides for foster care, the scheme is not implemented. Moreover, unlike the CARA, which acted as a nodal authority for regulation and control of adoption, there is no such single authority for the control of foster care.

No proper system for implementing sponsorship

The petition claims that the referral program explained in Section 45 of the JJ Act is not being implemented in its true spirit. The program aims to meet the medical, nutritional, educational and other needs of children and would go a long way to improving their quality of life if properly implemented.

Budget and resource allocation

In accordance with the petition, in the Union budget for the financial year 2021-22, Child Protection Services and Child Protective Services have been merged into Mission Vatsalya. It was given a total budget of Rs 900 crore. Of the said budget, only Rs 821 crore has actually been disbursed for the period 2021-22. In the financial year 2022-2023, the budget allocation for the Vatsalya Mission has been increased to Rs. 1472 million rupees. The petition argues that determining budgetary needs is crucial to ensure adequate care and protection for children in need and to allocate them effectively.

This petition was argued by attorneys, Mr. Roshan Shah, Mr. Alok Yadav and filed through the registered attorney, Mr. Vishnu Kant.

[Case Status: Srisabarirajan v. UOI & Ors W.P.(C) No. 719/2022]

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